We don’t have to tell you that social media is an industry that changes almost daily. At any given moment, there are new tools, platform updates, improved tracking, and several 2020 social media trends are emerging now that point to our industry being one of constant movement.

Now that we’re two full months into 2020, we are starting to see which trends and platforms will fade into the background – and which will shape our strategies this year. “Trend” can often feel like a four-letter word when it comes to social media, but it is critical that we keep an eye on the future.

In 2019 we saw several social platforms grow and continue to mature – from industry giants like Facebook and Instagram to emerging platform TikTok and more niche sites like Pinterest. This trend toward growth and diversity means that no one social platform or channel can be ignored.

Which social media channels are most popular

Source: PEW Surveys conducted 2012-2019

As social media continues to evolve and users continue to experiment with different apps and websites, marketers will need to have a clear understanding of where their social media resources are going and what platforms are generating the greatest return on investment.

Take a holistic look now at the 2020 social media trends emerging now and how they will affect the platforms you use, how you use them, and your business as a whole. Below are four trends we’re watching closely this year – plus the best platforms to address these changes.

#1 Ephemeral content disrupts social video

Tik Tok Ephemeral Video

Source: TikTok

Video has been a trend for years now, and there is no denying its importance. In fact, this year, video is expected to make up 82% of all internet traffic. Despite this compelling number, brands have been a bit slow to embrace video as a medium. Not only is video production expensive and time-consuming, but the lifespan of a social video has continued to shrink.

At the same time, social media users have begun to shun overly curated and filtered views of life in favor of more authentic, in-the-moment content, often in the form of quick and easily digestible video clips. The continued growth of Instagram and Facebook Stories (each with 500 million daily users), as well as the emerging popularity of TikTok, attests to this clear 2020 social media trend.

This year, expect to see even more engaging and entertaining content that is focused on capturing a moment, rather than making a hard sell. Platforms like TikTok and Stories that support ephemeral content will continue to gain traction, offering businesses more and more features (like Instagram’s growth insights) and ways to capitalize on this trend.

Platforms to watch: Instagram Stories, TikTok

As social media platforms look for ways to further prioritize video, and users seek out more ephemeral, bite-sized content, marketers have an opportunity to incorporate quick videos into their strategies in cost-effective, creative, and powerful ways. In 2020, consider making Instagram Stories a greater part of your strategy, or test out TikTok to see if it’s a fit for your product or brand.

#2 Growth of private communities and tight-knit tribes

Facebook Group Emerging Trends

Source: Facebook Groups

According to data from Pew Research, messaging apps dominated social networks in 2019. The top messaging apps now boast nearly 5 billion monthly active users combined (compared to the combined social networks which top out around 3 billion).

This trend data emerged as concerns about privacy grow and users start gravitating towards making more individualized and personal connections using messaging. But these conversations on messaging apps aren’t just happening between friends and family, but also between consumers and brands. According to a Facebook study of 8,000 users, 69% of respondents said that directly messaging with a company helps them feel more confident about the brand.

As the desire for more direct communication grows, brands will need to find ways to initiate private, one-on-one conversations with their customers. To make meaningful connections, it’s important for brands to resist the urge to market to broad demographics, and use behavioral insights to tailor their messaging and strategy, just like the organizations that have leveraged customer behavior to outperform their competitors by more than 25% in sales margins.

Platforms to use: Facebook Groups, Instagram Close Friends

The key to success when leveraging this 2020 social media trend is to balance intimate connections with customers without being overly intrusive. Consider building communities that attract your ‘marketing tribe’ through Facebook Groups or add your most engaged followers to your Instagram Close Friends List. Then, once your customers are engaging with you through community platforms, encourage them to interact with you directly via Facebook Messenger or Instagram Direct Messages.

If you are interested in ways that chatbots can help power your one-to-one marketing strategy, read our 5 Examples of How AI Chatbots Can Boost Your Marketing Power.

#3 Social commerce will come into maturity

Pinterest Social Commerce Emerging Trends

Source: Pinterest

Social networks have put a lot of effort into building a user-friendly shopping experience for consumers, and that hard work is finally paying off. In the past two years, website traffic driven from social media platforms has grown more than 100%.

As social channels become more and more of a place for discovery, users increasingly expect, and want, access to the brands and products they like within their platforms of choice. To that end, 30% of online shoppers say they would be likely to buy direct from a social media network like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat.

But consumers don’t want just any shopping experience. They want the ability to seamlessly discover, consider, and purchase their product, all within the social app of their choosing, and they also want an informative and relevant brand experience. Prospects and customers want to engage with user-generated content, beautiful brand visuals, and insider information and tips, while also being offered the chance to interact with brands directly via messaging and groups.

Platform to watch: Pinterest

A whopping 47% of U.S. users shop on Pinterest, compared to only 15% on Facebook. So while Facebook and Instagram have both invested heavily in shopping features, Pinterest is clearly winning the commerce game.

Pinterest was early to the social commerce game, releasing Buyable Pins in 2015 and growing this feature to over 60 million pins in the first 6 months. Since then, Pinterest has continued to release more commerce features, including Shop the Look, which highlights shoppable products in photos, and Catalogs, which allow brands to upload their entire product catalog to feature on Pinterest.

#4 Social Advertising Spend will Diversify

Pinterest Social Commerce Emerging Trends

Source: Snapchat

Just as consumers are becoming more and more comfortable with seeing product and service ads in their social media feeds and the idea of social commerce in general, brands are making massive investments in social advertising. The ads themselves are also becoming more advanced, offering personalized, interactive, and dynamic features. For example, last Fall, Facebook announced the rollout of their Personalized Ad Experiences, which tailors ad content, format and products featured based on an audience’s personalized preferences. Despite this innovation, and the fact that Facebook has long led the way in capturing advertisers’ dollars, the cost of advertising on Facebook increased 90% year-over-year in 2019, leaving a lot of marketers concerned about the future, and looking toward newer or different platforms for ad opportunities.

Platform to Watch: Snapchat, TikTok and Linked In

In response to this 2020 social media trend, and the growing cost of Facebook advertising, marketers are looking for ways to diversify their ad spend across platforms, test new channels, and experiment with new ad features. To follow their lead, choose alternative platforms based on your customer base and industry, and measure platform performance against Facebook and Instagram to help determine which platforms offer the best ROI for your brand and avoid being one of the 47% of businesses priced out of Facebook ads without a plan of where to go next.

BONUS TREND: Burnout & the “Digital Detox” is on the rise

Digital Detox Emerging Trends

Photo by Aleksandar Cvetanovic on Unsplash

Adding to the volatility of the social landscape is a 2020 social media trend known as the Digital Detox. This refers to the fact that users are increasingly taking breaks from social media by removing the apps from their phones or limiting their ability to login in an effort to modify their behavior and limit their time spent on social sites. More specifically, a recent study found that up to one-third of users have taken some type of measure to limit their social media use, and it’s no surprise. Consumers are inundated with content, updates, and over-connectedness, leading many to a feeling of burnout, and the need to put a renewed focus on mental health.

Instagram’s move to hide like counts occurred in response to this trend; according to the platform, waiting for the external validation of a ‘like’ can be detrimental to people’s mental health.

For brands, this shift away from relying on social networks for our feelings of connectedness speaks to the need for greater social listening to understand followers and analyze overall sentiment before making connections, a tactic 2/3 of marketers said would be critical in 2020.

In closing, while we don’t have a crystal ball, as marketers we can learn about 2020 social media trends by looking back on trends that had the most staying power over the past year. This year, we’ll see a lot of opportunities present themselves on emerging sites like TikTok, and growing commerce platforms like Pinterest, while marketers are likely to double down their efforts on leading platforms like Facebook and Instagram as well. In the end, no one platform is going to be the answer, and marketers will need to experiment with new social sites to find a winning mix.

What social media trends do you see as important in 2020? What platforms will you use to tackle them?

Benefit from in-person social media strategy workshops and case studies. Our social media marketing conferences feature a line-up of top brands, sharing their processes and best practices for creating a top-notch social media presence. If you want to learn more about how to use some of today’s most popular social media platforms, check out the top 7 brands on TikTok and the ultimate guide to using Instagram stories in marketing.